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Vienna Touchscreen Goban Wins Iwamoto Prize; “Surrounding Game” Runner-up

Monday September 21, 2015

A touchscreen go board built in the middle of a pedestrian shopping street in Vienna won this year’s World Wide Iwamoto Award from the European Go Center. Second place was taken by Will Lockhart and Cole Pruitt for their feature length documentary about go, “The Surrounding Game.”



The Public Touchscreen Go Table project was the work of a team led by Daniel Bösze, board member of the Austrian Go Federation, who wrote the software and negotiated with the city of Vienna to install the board. The project about a year and a half from start to opening ceremony and cost about $20,000 out of pocket, not including donated project planning and coding time, including $11,000 for the board itself. Since it opened in October 2014, the table has been averaging about 100 games a day, benefiting from a location on one of the busiest shopping streets in Mitteleuropa, Mariahilfer Straße. The board has room for two games at a time and is shielded from sun and rain by two large parasols. Bösze was awarded €1,000 for first place.
Pruitt and Lockhart meanwhile were awarded second place and a €500 “encouragement award” for their film, with which EJ readers are familiar. It is currently being finished up so it can be submitted to film festivals this fall and winter. It will premiere in Spring 2016.

Third place, also €500, went to Proyecto Gakko no Go, which since 2008 has taught go to low-income children at in the Jesús Maestro School in Petare, Caracas, Venezuela, one of the more marginalized and dangerous favelas in the country. The project was organized by Sister Marsela Mujica of the Catholic organization Fe y Alegria, who became enchanted by the Hikaru no Go manga. Starting with essentially nothing, she received support from the Venezuelan Go Association, Fe y Alegria, the Thai Go Association, Sociedad de Intercambio Internacional de Go, the Colegio Japones de Caracas and the International Go Federation, along with teaching visits from Argentinian player and organizer Fernando Aguilar.

“My congratulations to the three winners and hats off all the people who submitted projects,” said AGA president Andy Okun, who along with Aguilar and a half dozen other go officials and organizers, served on the Iwamoto Award jury. “It is amazing what people can do when they are tireless and dedicated.” The Iwamoto Awards seek to encourage projects that promote the spread of go. They are named for the late Japanese champion Iwamoto Kaoru, a tireless advocate for go for many decades, and are run by EGC with support from the European Go Federation and Nihon Ki-in.

Details of all the submitted projects can be found on the EGC website.
- Andy Okun

Categories: Europe

First IMSA Elite Mind Games Announced; 4 North American Players Needed

Saturday September 19, 2015

The first International Mind Sports Association Elite Mind Games (IEMG) will be held January 5-12, 2016 in Huai-An City, Jiangsu Province, China. The North American team will comprise three male players and one female player. All participants will have travel, accommodation, and visa application expenses paid for. Players will all receive prize money, a minimum of €1,000, which, after IGF surcharge, will be around $1,000.

Online playoffs will be held on the weekend of October 3-4 with tie-breakers on Oct. 10-11 (if needed). Players will need to budget the entire weekend as the online selections will likely begin at 9:00am PST / 12:00pm EST and end in the late afternoon/evening.

Eligibility: US/Canadian Citizenship. US players must have had continuous AGA membership for a year and have been resident in the US for six of the last 12 months. Interested players must email by Sunday, September 27th.

According the International Go Federation, the format will be the same as the fourth Sport Accord World Mind Games (men’s team event, women’s individual event, pair go). The Men’s team competition is a round-robin, the women’s is a double-elimination with extra games to determine all places, and pair go is a straight knockout.



Third Haylee Match Set for Saturday; 1-1 Against AGA Pros

Friday September 18, 2015

2015.09.02_Haylee The third of Haylee’s (Hajin Lee 3p) live stream demonstration matches with AGA pros is set for this Saturday evening at 7 p.m. Eastern time on YouTube. Haylee is 1-1 so far, having won against Calvin Sun 1p but lost against Gansheng (William) Shi 1p. In each episode, Haylee does a short interview about the life and go career of the player, plays a game online while thinking out loud, and then reviews the game with the player. Tomorrow night’s game is against Ryan Li 1p.

Categories: U.S./North America

Myungwan Kim 9p Visits Mexico City Go Class

Wednesday September 16, 2015

Myungwan Kim 9p fields questions on September 2 from students at Pippiolo in Mexico City, where instructor Siddhartha Avila (to his left) teaches as part of a very successful curriculum for preschool and elementary school children. One asked Kim who his strongest three opponents have been, and when he answered Lee Changho, Lee Sedol and Cho Hoon Hyun, the kid immediately said “Have you played Gu Li?!”
- report/photo by Steven Burrall

Categories: Latin America,Youth

Burrall Father-Son Team Tops Davis-Sacramento Fall Tourney

Monday September 14, 2015

Matthew Burrall 7d and Steve Burrall 3d topped the Davis/Sacramento Go Club Fall Tournament, tying for first place after tie-breakers. The tournament was held September 5th at the Arden-Dimick library in Sacramento. “We had 16 players, our largest number in a few years,” reports organizer Willard Haynes. “It was also the strongest field that we have ever had.” There were five dan level players ranging from 1 dan to 7 dan. “One player, Jeremy Cook 9k, came all the way from Los Angeles,” Haynes adds. The lower division was won by Cordell Newmiller, 8k by tie breaker. Laura Holeman 12k, played in her first AGA tournament.

Categories: U.S./North America

WMSG Qualification tournaments start this month in Boston

Monday September 14, 2015

The selection process for the 2016 World Mind Sports Games (WMSG) will begin at the upcoming American Chang Qi Cup in Cambridge, MA, on September 26 – 28, says AGA President Andy Okun.   Although plans have not been formally announced, it is expected that the 2016 WMSG will be held in Macau, China. Prior WMSG competitions (2008 in Beijing, and 2012 in Lille France) invited large teams for both women and men. “That means that some players will have a chance to make the team with lower ratings than usual for our international events,” said Okun. “The existing qualification points system is being modified to include the lower ranks, and will be used for selection of both the men’s and women’s teams.” Other tournaments intended to be used as qualifiers include the Cotsen in Los Angeles, the New Jersey Open, The Maryland Open and at least two online tournaments; other tournaments that meet certain criteria may also be designated as qualifiers. The points system will also select for invitations to the North American Masters and may be used for other invitations that come up from time to time, Okun said.


Chang Qi Cup Registration Tops 150 with Less Than Two Weeks to Go

Sunday September 13, 2015

Registration is speeding up as the Chang Qi Cup approaches. At this point, less than two weeks remain before the Cup kicks off at Harvard University. The unprecedented event will include professional commentary on the Chinese semifinals, an amateur tournament with more than $10,000 in total cash prizes, and multiple other special events. There will be a lot of professional go players on hand: Chang Hao 9P, Yu Bin 9P, Mingming Yin 1P, Andy Liu 1P, Gansheng Shi 1P, Calvin Sun 1P, and Ryan Li 1P have all confirmed they’ll be in attendance.

Because there are less than two weeks left, organizers highly recommend that anyone who wants to make travel plans do so soon. Information about hotels and transportation, as well as general information and registration, is all available on the ACGA’s website. -Julian Erville. Photo: Student Organization Center at Hilles, Harvard University.


Last Week for AGHS Applications

Saturday September 12, 2015

Officer applications for the American Go Honor Society are due by September 19. The organization runs multiple events every year including the School Team Tournament and the Young Lions, and is run entirely by high school students.  The open positions include Vice President, Promotion Head, Webmaster, Tournament Organizer, Secretary, and Treasurer. To apply, download the application form on the AGHS’s website and send it in to by September 19.


Pandanet AGA City League Registration Continues

Friday September 11, 2015

pandalogo-4885cf7392ac5bc75a68d553b7287b04Registration has started for the new year for the Pandanet AGA City League. “We’re looking for your teams from local areas to compete for the best city across the US and Canada,” says organizer Steve Colburn. Check here for rules for team makeup and other information.  Registration continues through  Sept 27th. Contact for registration.
“We’re running a special this year only for new and existing teams,” Colburn adds. For the 2015-2016 year the AGA has partnered with Pandanet to offer a deal to teams who play. If the following two conditions are met, each team member will receive $50 off of their Go Congress registration: All games are played throughout the year and player bio and photos are included with team registration.

The Power Report, Special Edition: Nihon Ki-in Summer Camp/Meijin match

Thursday September 10, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2015.09.06_Meijin-Iyama-Takao-review-1st-game

Last week, as Tokyo correspondent for the American Go E-Journal, I was invited to attend some special events held in connection with the Nihon Ki-in Summer Camp and the Meijin title match (at right). Here is my report.

Teaching Game: This year’s summer camp, which has become an annual event at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo, was held for two weeks, from Friday, August 21, to Thursday, September 3. The camp had a cosmopolitan atmosphere, with 16 players of both sexes from 13 countries taking part and go ranks ranging from around 3-dan to double-digit kyu. One point that struck me was that, besides the Western countries you might expect, there were also participants from places like Hong Kong, China, and Singapore where there’s no shortage of local instructors. Word-of-mouth on this event must be good.

There was a full program, with morning and afternoon sessions every day. The 
program included sessions studying life-and-death and tesuji problems, lectures and simuls by professionals, goodwill matches with Japanese amateurs, and also a league tournament. A repeat participant, Michael Webster of England, was taken on as an intern at the Nihon Ki-in beforehand to help plan the camp; he also selected the life-and-death problems, including problems of various levels to cater for everyone. All the participants I got to speak to were happy with what they called a very enjoyable camp. The double-digit kyu-player referred to above told me that he was actually a virtual beginner but that he had a great time at the camp and that his motivation was now very high.

2015.09.09_NHK-Redmond-game-commentary.jpgThe event I was invited to attend was a teaching game played from 
noon to about two o’clock on Wednesday, September 2. This game was a reward for the winner of the camp league, who was Tyler Oyakawa 3D of the US. The professional was Fujisawa Rina 3P, holder of the Women’s Honinbo title and, at just 16, the great hope of women’s go in Japan.  Coincidentally, another American did a simultaneous public commentary in the same room: this was Michael Redmond 9P, who was assisted by his charming elder daughter Emi, who is about 1-dan amateur. Emi speaks three languages, Japanese, Chinese, and English; she is in her final year at Sophia University (Jochi) in Tokyo, and she is also interested in helping to spread go. The game, on three stones, was a relatively peaceful one because, for the most part, Rina did not, in Michael’s words (in conversation later), “play wildly, as I would have done.” If the handicap is correct, the pro can expect to catch up in the endgame, and this seemed to be Rina’s strategy; she ended up getting a good lead, however, leading Tyler to resign.

I found the commentary very instructive and so asked Michael to write it up f
or the E-Journal. He cheerfully complied, so you can click on his commentary here. After having the bright idea of making this request, I just sat back and enjoyed the game instead of taking notes. Just for the record, the Nihon Ki-in is also holding a winter camp this year, but it is of a different nature. It is open to go educators and instructors from the ASEAN countries, seven of which have go associations: Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. The camp will be mainly concerned with teaching and propagation methods.

Clash of the Honorary Meijins: In the afternoon on Wednesday, we were all invited to attend a special event commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Asahi Meijin title and starting at 3:30. This was a public game between the only two players to have qualified as Honorary Meijin, Cho Chikun and Kobayashi Koichi. Kobayashi has already assumed the title, as he turned 60 three years ago, but Cho Chikun is 59, so it’s not yet official for him. The criterion is winning the title five times in a row or ten times overall. Cho won the 5th to 9th titles, thus qualifying one way, then almost qualifying the other when he won the 21st to 24th titles. Kobayashi won the 10th title, then had a long run lasting from the 13th to the 19th.

2015.09.09_NHK-pro-game-commentary-600x450.jpgThis game was played in the Wisteria Room of the Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo, informally known as just the Chinzanso, where the Meijin title match between Iyama Yuta and Takao Shinji was due to start the following day. The main commentator was 24th Honinbo Shuho, otherwise known as Ishida Yoshio 9P, assisted by Osawa Narumi 4P, among others. Prominent Meijins of the past in the audience, such as Otake Hideo, Rin Kaiho, Takemiya Masaki, and the incumbent, Iyama Yuta, were also called up on stage for their comments. Several people commented on how serious both Cho and Kobayashi seemed about the game. (As is usual with these public games, there were playing on the same stage as the commentary, but in theory the players are too absorbed in the game to pay attention to what is being said. That’s the theory, anyway.) In the past, these two were great rivals, especially in the 80s. Cho achieved success earlier and has outstripped Kobayashi (74 titles to 59); however, Kobayashi wrested his big titles, the Kisei and the Meijin, from the hands of Cho. The biggest regret of Kobayashi’s career is undoubtedly three successive Honinbo challenges rebuffed by Cho. Cho and Kobayashi hold the record for the most games between two players, at 129. We didn’t get an up-to-date breakdown at the public commentary, but someone did say that it was 63 wins each a couple of years ago (by the way, this game does not count, as it was unofficial).

As usual with these two, the game was a good contest and entertained the stan
ding-room-only audience. Takemiya commented: “The game is so fierce you’d think there was a big prize at stake. Each one thinks, this is the one player I don’t want to lose to.” Iyama also expressed admiration for their fighting spirit. The highlight of the game was an attack on a weak group launched by Kobayashi (White) on move 108. Everyone thought Cho was in trouble, but he came up with a clever counter that linked up his weak group at the cost of a two-stone sacrifice. At this point, Cho was ahead, but Kobayashi pulled off an upset in the endgame while Cho was in byo-yomi. Kobayashi ended up winning by 1.5 points.After the game–Kobayashi: “Black 109 was the kind of move you expect from Cho.” Cho: “Next year I can call myself Honorary Meijin, but forget about this honorary stuff. I’m going to become the real Meijin.”

Actually the game review was the most entertaining part of the event. Cho is 
a compulsive joker; you rarely hear a straight line from him. On the stage, he was like a runaway train. Poor Ishida in particular was the butt of his humor, with comments like, “I may play badly sometimes, but not badly enough to lose to Ishida.” Cho’s fellow pros take his humor in their stride, and Ishida kept trying to review the game with Kobayashi although drowned out by Cho. A number of times, Cho said to the audience: “Do you have any idea what those guys are going on about? I don’t.“   He also reproached Ishida with not giving his clever move at 109 adequate appreciation at the time, so he was certainly listening to the public commentary.

The eve party: In Japan, there’s a strong tradition of holding parties on the eve of major events. There’s a special word for it, “zenyasai” or “night-before festival.” The tradition is honored in go, and these parties are big events (about 240 people attended on Wednesday), especially for games played away from the major cities. They are like showcases for the local go community. The summer camp group was also invited to the eve party held from 6 pm. on the 2nd. Persons in attendance ranged from the heavies of the go world to ordinary go fans who apply by postcard for invitations.

At the party there were the usual speeches and, of more interest, short speeches by the players expressing their resolve for the match. Takao: “This year my results have been bad and I have a minus record. I hear it’s the first time ever the Meijin challenger has had a minus record, so I have set an unprecedented record. Just between you and me, it’s because I have staked everything on the Meijin title, so at present things are proceeding according to my scenario. I also have a scenario for after this, but it’s a secret. It’s not so often in a lifetime that you get to play a best-of-seven, so this is a valuable period for me. It’s important for me.” Iyama’s reply: “I don’t know what kind of scenario Takao Sensei is writing, but the Meijin is a special title. This title alone I can’t hand over.”        

Among the guests appearing on stage was Michael Redmond, who, assisted by Osawa Narumi 4P, did a public commentary on the game on Friday afternoon. On Thursday morning, the summer-camp participants were invited to watch the start of the game in the playing room.

photos courtesy Tom Urasoe, Nihon Ki-in Overseas Dept. 

Categories: Japan,John Power Report